College student Hollis Henley is healthy, but a few months ago kidney failure caused by a serious virus threatened his life.
Hollis says, “My legs started swelling. I started getting real dark sores and lesions on my arms and leg.”
First came dialysis, an exhausting process. Then, word that a kidney was available for a transplant.
"I called everyone to let them know; it was five in the morning.”
The transplant was a success. Thankfully his body accepted the kidney, but other patients aren’t so lucky.
Dr. Dixon Kaufman, a transplant surgeon, says, "We always worry that a patient will have a rejection episode.”
Kaufman has found a way to reduce rejection that happens within the first six months after a transplant. An immunosuppressant drug called alemtuzumab is the breakthrough.
In 2001, Dr. Kaufman began giving it to kidney recipients instead of the usual drug of choice, basiliximab. He found alemtuzumab cut early rejection rates in half.
“We’re seeing a lot of happy patients.”
Alemtuzumab rarely carries side effects, and it doesn’t require lifetime steroid use like the current therapy does. Steroids can cause bone disease, diabetes and weight gain. Hollis is grateful for Dr. Kaufman’s discovery.
“it’s a blessing.”
It’s a blessing for all transplant recipients who can now live healthier, happier lives than ever before.